THE city's MP has defended himself in response to attacks over the impact Universal Credit has had on vulnerable local residents.

Lynn Denham, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Worcester, and Louis Stephen, a Green Party city councillor, criticised Robin Walker over the new benefit, which was rolled out in Worcester in October.

They spoke out following an article in this newspaper about a Worcester man, called Will Stoddart.

Mr Stoddart lost his job and had to go 'cap in hand' to the city's foodbank while waiting for his first Universal Credit payment.

Mrs Denham and Mr Stephen were scathing about the delay applicants endure before receiving the benefit.

However, Mr Walker, MP for Worcester, said: "The fundamental basis of the shift to Universal Credit makes sense. It's a simplification of a complex system.

"I have worked with the Citizens' Advice Bureau and others to raise concerns about the way the system works.

"The system on the whole is helping people into work. Universal Credit reflects the way the world of work works, you are paid every month.

"It makes the transition to the world of work easier."

he has helped struggling claimants and was willing to take up Mr Stoddart's case.

Mr Walker addressed concerns about applicants waiting five weeks for their first payment, comparing it to the wait for the first paycheck at a new job.

He said he lobbied for advance loans to be made more accessible to claimants, who required extra support before their first payment.

The MP added that he would like to see the interest rates on the repayments for these advances reduced.

However, Mrs Denham said she was 'appalled' that the benefit had resulted in people like Mr Stoddart being forced to go to the foodbank.

She said: "These are policies and programmes approved of and voted for by our MP Robin Walker.

"Why would he be in favour of policies that cause such misery to ordinary working people?"

Mr Stephen floated the idea of handing out the first Universal Credit payment within two weeks of an application.

Worcester Foodbank claims the number of people using the facility has shot up by over 20 per cent since last year, due to the introduction of Universal Credit in October.

The foodbank fed 2,191 people from November 2018 to January 2019, compared to 1,771 people over the same period in 2017/18.